Jump to the following sections or just read the whole darn thing below!
-I can build a website for FREE on Yahoo or elsewhere. Why should I pay for this?
Many free web builders tend to be pure HTML. Without getting too technical, that means hard-coding everything without additional functionality (like forms or image galleries). Management then becomes a big hassle, especially if you want to update content on your site regularly. We build with WordPress, which is a very flexible content management system. Using it is as simple as logging in and editing a page or blog post — and it’s all scalable as your business grows.
-I can get a nice looking template site from a subscription service site. Why should I hire you?
Template hosts tend to be month-to-month subscription sites. In the end, you’ll wind up paying more — and in doing so, you’ll wind up using a template with limited scalability. We charge one time for design/build and we show you how to update/add content, so barring any major design changes down the road, you’re good to go — your only monthly costs are web hosting and domain, which are a fraction of subscription sites. We custom design to your needs and your branding, and we custom build to your feature requests and usability requirements. Ultimately, it’s up to you, but the pros/cons debate really comes down to template design w/ monthly subscription or custom design/build w/ a one-time upfront fee.
-So tell me why you’re the best choice.
We like to think that we offer the best of all worlds: personal customer service, technical chops, real-world experience, and a general go-getter attitude. From a practical perspective, we’re small business owners, which means we understand and work with standard business practices. We’ve also studied marketing, color theory, and usability, which means that our websites are more than just pretty pictures — they’re designed that way for a reason to connect with your user. We approach sites with the aim of meeting your site’s goals.
-Design? Build? What?
We’re a designer and a builder–so you get both professional layout and graphic design, and solid technical implementation of WordPress software and website mechanics. If you already have a design, that’s fine, too–you can use all or part of our services.
-You guys seem more affordable (and cooler) than other website-maker people. Why is that?
We know who we’re working with — and who we want to work with. Small businesses, musicians, artists, engaged couples, they want something that represents their essence without going over budget. We’re a big fan of supporting a grassroots economic system and we provide a valuable service in that realm.
-If I hire you for design, can I also get a logo and other branding?
Yes! Sierra is a freelance designer and has developed lots of logos and branding programs. She is available for logo and identity projects. She will also ensure a consistent look and feel across all your materials.
-What if I have a design already?
That’s fine, too! You can either have us clean up the design and make it WordPress-ready, or we can use it directly.
-Can you help me pick out a color scheme?
Sure. Color is an integral part of good design. It sets the tone for your message.
-What is color theory?
Color theory is the idea that colors have meaning. Warm colors like red, orange, and yellow all draw the human eye more than other colors. Colors like blue impart a sense of authority and integrity. One of the things we bring to web design is color theory consideration based on your target audience.
-What is usability?
Usability is the practice of making things easy for your website visitor–so that they stay, read what you have to offer, and ideally partake. When you make users work hard to get what they want, they leave–and they don’t come back. We bring 15 years of work in usability and user advocacy to our designs.
-Can I connect my site to (INSERT LATEST SOCIAL MEDIA TREND HERE)?
Yes! WordPress has many plug-in features to integrate these types of things.
-What about a domain name and web hosting?
You’ll need to sign up for a domain name and web hosting if you don’t already have it. We’ll provide you with a few referrals, only with a little bit about why we like those services. If you already have web hosting, we’ll need to double-check that it supports PHP and MySQL databases (most do but it’s good to sanity check).
-What’s so great about WordPress anyway? Isn’t it for blogs?
WordPress was originally conceived as a blogging engine but it grew quite rapidly into something much more powerful. Now, you can call it a Content Management System. There are some limitations to its capabilities but for the purposes of our customers, it can pretty much do anything and everything.
-So what’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?
WordPress.COM is a free blogging service with limited customizability. You can pay for some access to the code for customizing, but it’s still limited. It’s similar to Blogspot.com.
WordPress.ORG is a free software that you can download. It’s a Content Management System, which is really just nifty terminology to say that it powers your website and/or blog. It’s fully customizable with all sorts of extendable features for multimedia, contact forms, menus, social media sync, and other Web 2.0 goodness.
-What about e-commerce?
There are a number of options for e-commerce depending on what you’re selling and the volume of your inventory. Some of this involves building it directly on your site while other options include third-party vendors. Contact us and we’ll go into more details.
-Whoa. You write marketing copy, too?
We do. We’re not only a designer and builder, but we’re also freelance writers. (Hey, what can we say? We’re multi-talented!) We’ve both been writing copy for over 15 years.
-Can web copy be propagated into brochures and press releases?
In some ways, yes. The general marketing message should be consistent across all of your branding. However, brochures and other print materials have different space concerns, so you may have too much or too little copy to work with. Other materials require a different tone, such as press releases and white papers.
The short answer is: Possibly, but contact us and we’ll discuss.
-What is this SEO I keep hearing about?
SEO is a fancy acronym that stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is a schmancy way of saying, “Trying to get you to appear on Google search results.” There are many factors involved with SEO, from content to code to links. It’s a bit much to go into right now and it’s constantly evolving, but there are some core tenants we can work with you on. And if you need deeper research and execution, we can do that too.
-I can hire some SEO firm to write my copy. How come they charge ½ of what you do?
Honestly, many SEO firms outsource their copy overseas. If you look at the quality of the writing compared to what we’ve worked on, you’ll notice a stark difference (and a much more proper use of commas and dashes). In some cases, people are cool with this because they just want the articles and links pumped out as fast as possible. In other cases, people get discouraged because they feel the poor grammar reflects on their business. It just depends on what perspective and value you bring to the table.
-What other services can you provide tangential to this?
Sierra is a graphic designer and writer specializing in small business documentation. She can design, write, and edit brochures, advertorials, and other marketing pieces. She can also create a visual branding strategy with logos, color scheme, etc. Mike is a technical and marketing writer and can provide full copywriting and technical writing services, along with SEO research and implementation.
-Who the heck are you guys?
We’re Mike Chen and Sierra Fong, two freelance writer/designers who live in the San Francisco Bay Area. See our Who We Are page to learn more.
-Are you the evil online con artist Mike Chen and/or the sportswriter Mike Chen?
Mike: No and Yes.
A) I don’t know who the Web Army Knife guy is but it’s not me. I once got an angry phone call at 3 AM from a guy who thought that it was me based on my freelance writing site and he would call me everyday at 3 AM until I gave him his money back. After a LONG series of explanations, he finally believed me and apologized for waking me up.
B) Yes, I’m the same Mike Chen who covered the NHL for Fox Sports, Versus, SB Nation, and Kukla’s Korner.
-You guys seem cool. Can I hang out with you or at least get a custom playlist?
Maybe to the first one if you are a good client and don’t have BO problems. Yes, definitely to the second one. Sierra will load some Underworld, Pet Shop Boys, and maybe a little Orbital. Mike will likely add some Ladytron, Pulp, and The Smiths. Of course, it goes without saying that you’ll get some Joy Division.
-Can you recommend a great place to get a burrito?
Mike’s favorite burrito place is Como Esta in Palo Alto.
-Give me one random fact about each of you.
Sierra is a huge supporter of the Scottish professional football team Hibernian FC. Mike worked as a bartender at The Phoenix in London’s Cavendish Square during the summer of 2000.
-Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker — evil Sith Lord or manipulated tragic hero?
Sierra: I see both Anakin and Vader as a manipulated tragic hero. Although Anakin’s weakness allows him to fall to the dark side somewhat easily, Vader’s later regrets are what save him. It was obvious he was being held under the Emperor’s evil influence all along. When his regrets allow him to destroy the Emperor, he’s able to take his mask off and look at his son with his own–human–eyes.
Mike: I always saw it as both the Jedi and Palpatine are manipulating Anakin. The Jedi are doing it by constantly telling him no while asking him to spy on Palpatine — they don’t trust him fully (Mace Windu says as much) but they need his power. Palpatine’s manipulations are more subtle. But he basically gets to a point where he must pick one or the other, and only Palpatine claims he can save his wife — it’s the jerks who say no vs. the mentor fellow who says yes. And seriously, if you were married to Natalie Portman, wouldn’t you cut off Samuel L. Jackson’s hand to save her? I would.
-Ok, seriously…are you guys named after a Joy Division song?
Yes. It’s a great song! But also, we like the idea of providing the full atmosphere of a great website that meets your business or personal goals.